A lot of times when we think of studying abroad, we think about traveling every weekend and always having something exciting to do. Before I even arrived in France, I thought the same thing. But it’s not always like that. There is still school, homework, and regular household tasks that need to be done, like cleaning your room or doing the laundry. And Netflix definitely still exists.
There will come a time when an actual daily routine becomes a thing, just like it is back in the United States. But doing regular things and having a routine is not bad. I’m sure a lot of people actually do travel to spontaneous places every weekend while they study abroad — and that can be pretty great — but a lot of people don’t, and that’s okay too.
While I have done a good amount of traveling since being here in France, I haven’t been gone every weekend. I have had my share of relaxing weekends — days where I don’t do anything exciting, and days that are just simply routine. These days matter just as much as the other ones. I think that there is a sort of beauty in the routine. It means you’ve managed to become familiar with a country that is most likely completely foreign and different. It means you’re really making it your home.
I’m not saying to spend every day sitting at the house and watching Netflix, though, like you might do back in the United States. As my Resident Director tells us, “It may just be what you do back at home, but you’re not at home!” and those are wise words. But spending a day simply walking around the city, or maybe going to a museum in your city, or getting lunch, or shopping, or just spending time with your host family, are all things that may not be super exciting, but are still just as important in the whole study abroad experience.
The simple activities can help you get to know the place and the people that have become your life for this short period of time, and that is what really matters.
Probably one of my favorite days since being here in Grenoble happened this past weekend, on December 1st. It started snowing that day, the first snowfall of the season, and I felt truly lucky to have been able to see it. I’m from a place where it doesn’t snow, so I hardly get to see it, which is why it was such a big deal to me. All I did that day, apart from going to class, was walk around in the snow, just really appreciating how beautiful it was, how magical I thought it made the city seem. And when I got home, I listened to Christmas music and drank hot chocolate, essentially all the typical winter activities. If I really simplified it, though, what I did was walk around for a little bit. It’s not exactly exciting, but still one of the best experiences I’ve had in Grenoble. This is just one example of why I say the little experiences matter, and how it’s okay to make the most out of these days.
I came to France with so many expectations of the places I was going to visit, and it turns there are way too many places in Europe, even just in France alone, for me to see. I decided to focus more on the life that I have here in Grenoble and its surrounding area. Living in Grenoble is enough for me, and I found that after appreciating simply being able to do life in this city has gotten me excited for the simple things.